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Split Rail RV Park preps for Parade of Oranges

20140122 TCF-Float-preparations 0846MISSION—Star-shaped slices of cactus and palm tree branches were strewn on the ground outside of the Split Rail RV Park Annex in preparation for a glitzy saloon, fit for a true cowboy.

The Texas Citrus Fiesta Parade is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. with the theme of Western Glitz and Glamour, and Split Rail RV Park resident Bob Baker said this year has proven to be one of the more difficult themes when decorating for the Product Float category.

Residents grouped up and discussed their plans for their float, which must be almost completely covered with fresh fruit, according to rules in the category. When using freshly cut citrus and plants, Ida Czmielewski explained there is a limited amount of time that the fruit stays fresh, leaving the park in a time crunch.

“You have to water the oranges after they are put on the float to keep them from rotting,” Czmielewski said. “Hopefully it doesn’t rain this weekend, because we don’t have a place to store our float.”

This year’s float has a variety of local agricultural products, including carrots, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, onions, grapefruit, oranges, cactus, aloe vera plants and palm tree branches. The majority of the citrus was received as a donation from Lone Tree Citrus in Mission and the farmer’s market in Weslaco.

Weather is only one of multiple issues a fresh fruit float is up against, but Baker said the competition is all in good fun and is more of a project for residents to build friendships and use their unique talents.

“This is fun, you get to know people a little better,” Baker said. “You know, some people can look at something and see where stuff should be. I would have never thought about cutting cactus.”

It has been a tradition for the RV Park to include its King and Queen on the float, waving to community members. This year, the title went to John and Sara Weihmiller. John Weihmiller said it is exciting for the couple to be part of the project when just last year he was driving the vehicle that led the float.

The group designed a float that could have lent itself to a John Wayne film, including decorations of an old-time saloon bar, horses, poker players and saloon girls. Costumes are up to the individuals on the float, which will come as a surprise not only to parade attendees but park members as well.

Although an estimated 20 people worked on the design, and members from all over the park join together for the last two days to slice grapefruit and provide goodies to those who work continuously for hours.

The park took first place in the 2013 Parade of Oranges, though Czmielewski said the contest is all in good fun.

“It is just a friendly rivalry…someone has to win and someone has to lose,” Czmielewski said. “If you are a sore loser then you shouldn’t be competing. Life is too short.”

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